Stern II Appeal

Foley Bezek Behle & Curtis, LLP Defeats Class Action Objectors In 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

After obtaining a massive class action settlement in favor of a nationwide class of AT&T Wireless subscribers surrounding AT&T’s implementation of an allegedly improper “Regulatory Program Fee,”  three objectors came forward and appealed the District Court’s order certifying the settlement class and approving the settlement.  This appeal was brought by three objectors to a class action settlement that resolved several long-running lawsuits against AT&T Wireless and covered tens of millions of former AT&T Wireless subscribers.

Foley Bezek Behle & Curtis, LLP along with several other firms defended the settlement on appeal.  After a 18-month appeal and oral argument before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Ninth Circuit upheld the settlement.  A panel of three judges from the Ninth Circuit reviewed the settlement and held that “the district court did a most thorough and excellent job throughout these proceedings” and that the settlement was adequate and fair.  Foley Bezek Behle & Curtis, LLP not only help obtained the underlying settlement for tens of millions of class members but vigorously defended the settlement throughout the entire process.  A copy of the Ninth Circuits opinion can be found at Stern v. Gambello, 480 Fed. Appx. 867 (9th Cir. Cal. 2012)

Merrill Lynch Class Action View the exhibits

View the Exhibits:

view.exhibit   Exhibit A: Merrill Lynch IBAR, Inc. Brochure

view.exhibit    Exhibit B: Letter from Merrill Lynch to Robert E. Schultz. Dated March 12th, 1981.

view.exhibit    Exhibit C: Assignment and Assumption Agreement

view.exhibit    Exhibit D: Trustor’s Order For Payment

view.exhibit    Exhibit E: Bank of America’s Guarantee

view.exhibit    Exhibit F: Merrill Lynch Settlement Services, Inc. Brochure

Any inquiries concerning the Merrill Lynch class action should be directed to Foley & Bezek, LLP at (805) 962-9495. A copy of the complaint can be sent via facsimile or E-mail.

Merrill Lynch Class Action Press Releases

Press Release
Merrill Lynch Sued in Class Action for Failure to Make Structured Settlement Payments to Injured Individuals in Personal Injury Cases.
Foley & Bezek, a Southern California law firm with a practice specializing in class actions, has filed a class action lawsuit in California against Merrill Lynch and its subsidiary Merrill Lynch Settlement Services for alleged failure to make timely payments to individuals who settled personal injury cases and agreed to accept periodic payments from Merrill Lynch Settlement Services utilizing “structured settlements.”
A structured settlement agreement is an agreement between an individual injured in a personal injury lawsuit who agrees to settle his or her lawsuit with the defendant who caused the injury, and accept a series of payments over time to be paid by Merrill Lynch Settlement Services, a subsidiary of Merrill Lynch. By utilizing a “structured settlement” through Merrill Lynch Settlement Services, the payments to the injured individual are tax free.
Merrill Lynch, through its settlement services subsidiary, Merrill Lynch Settlement Services, assumed full responsibility for these payments to the injured individuals. To accomplish this, Merrill Lynch Settlement Services purchased U.S. Treasury Bonds which it placed in trust and agreed to use the income from the bonds to make the agreed upon payments to the injured individuals. Subsequently, Merrill Lynch sold its ownership in its settlement services’ subsidiary to a third party. The third party pledged the treasury bonds to Morgan Stanley as collateral for a loan to the third party. When the third party defaulted on the loans, Morgan Stanley foreclosed on the treasury bonds to repay its loan to the third party.
Now, over 100 individuals, many of whom were disabled by their injuries, have not received the payments that Merrill Lynch Settlement Services promised to make.
In April of 2000, Merrill Lynch, without admitting liability, agreed to pay $16,900,000 in full settlement of all claims against it in the class action lawsuit. In June of 2000, Morgan Stanley, without admitting liability, agreed to pay $23,000,000 in full settlement of all claims against it. The litigation continues against Bear, Stearns & Co., Bankers Trust Company, Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, U.S. Trust Company and the remaining defendents.
Any inquiries concerning the Merrill Lynch class action should be directed to Foley & Bezek, LLP at (805) 962-9495. A copy of the complaint can be sent via facsimile or E-mail.

T-Mobile Class Action

This page was created as a source of information to consumers who are inquiring about a class action lawsuit recently filed against T-Mobile with regard international roaming charges.

This class action lawsuit, entitled Behar v. T-Mobile, was filed on October 24, 2003 in San Diego Superior Court. It seeks to proceed as a class action on behalf California residents arising out of T-Mobile’s allegedly unfair, deceptive and misleading business practices of billing their cellular telephone customers for calls dialed to their cellular telephones while their customers (and their cellular telephones) were outside the United States, even though their customers never received or made the calls for which they were billed. A scanned copy (in PDF format) of the class action complaint can be viewed by clicking on the link on the side menu entitled “View the Complaint”.

The facts underlying this class action are as follows: In or around March 2003, the plaintiff noticed that its T-Mobile telephone bill contained several extremely high and duplicate roaming charges for calls allegedly placed to plaintiff’s cellular phone while plaintiff was out of the country. For these alleged one minute telephone calls, two charges of $4.99 each appear on plaintiff’s bill. Plaintiff was out of the country when these calls were placed to its cellular telephone. Plaintiff never made or received the calls that appear on its T-Mobile bill.

Then, in May of 2003, T-Mobile sent Plaintiff a letter threatening to suspend its cellular telephone service for non-payment of these overcharges. When asked by plaintiff, T-Mobile provided no explanation for the $4.99 charges which had been placed on plaintiff’s cellular telephone bill. The overcharges that appeared on plaintiff’s T-Mobile bill totaled in excess of $140.00.

The class action lawsuit seeks to obtain recovery for each effected resident of the State of California of all monies wrongfully obtained and retained by T-Mobile. The named plaintiff in the class action lawsuit is Behar International Counsel, PLC.

Restaurant/Bar Class Action

Restaurant/Bar Liability Insurance Class Action Homepage
This page was created as a source of information to consumers who are inquiring about a class action lawsuit recently filed against Brown & Brown of California, United Restaurant Insurance Services (URIS), California Restaurant Specialty Cooperative (CRIS), Surplus Lines, Heritage International, and Ian Stuart with regard to bar and restaurant liability insurance policies.

This lawsuit was filed on November 5, 2003, by Foley & Bezek, LLP, in the Santa Barbara Superior Court. It seeks to proceed as a class action on behalf of all bar and restaurant owners who purchased allegedly fraudulent polices of liability insurance purportedly issued by Lloyd’s of London. A scanned copy (in Adobe Acrobat format) of the class action complaint filed on November 5, 2003 with the Santa Barbara Superior Court can be viewed by clicking on the link on the side menu entitled “View the Complaint”.

The California Department of Insurance, the United States Attorneys Office for the Southern District of New York, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are currently investigating this alleged fraud. In addition, Lloyd’s is currently in the process of notifying bar and restaurant owners that policies of liability insurance that were purportedly issued by Lloyd’s through United Restaurant Insurance Services, Inc., Heritage International, and/or Ian Stuart apparently were not authorized, and do not provide any insurance coverage. As a result, bar owners are scrambling to obtain replacement insurance policies.

The class action lawsuit seeks to obtain the recovery of all premiums paid by bar and restaurant owners for the allegedly fraudulent insurance policies. The named plaintiffs in the class action lawsuits are James Fletcher, the owner of “Jimboz” Lounge in Santa Barbara, and Mike Bustanchury, the owner of “Tiburon Tavern” in Santa Barbara.

William Meader, Senior Investigator for the California Department of Insurance, had advised Foley & Bezek, LLP that based on the current investigation, it appears that between 300 and 400 insurance policies were issued to bar and restaurant owners throughout the State of California. Mr. Meader is also attempting to determine whether bar owners in other states are involved, and for how many years the fraudulent policies have been issued. Annual premiums for the allegedly fraudulent policies ranged between $2,335.00 and $30,000.00, depending on the size of the bars and restaurants involved.

AT&T Wireless Class Action

AT&T Caught Charging Customers for Services They Didn’t Want- $47 Million Paid in Settlement

            What began as a telephone call to complain to AT&T Wireless for billing overcharges turned into a nationwide legal slugfest fought on behalf of hundreds of thousands of miffed AT&T customers— ultimately resulting in a hefty $47 million dollar settlement.  Represented by a small Santa Barbara law firm, Austin, Texas resident German Godoy, took his fight to AT&T on behalf of himself and all others who he believed were similarly wronged by AT&T.

The case started when Mr. Godoy decided to cancel his wireless service with AT&T partway through his billing cycle.  Upon receiving his bill, he discovered that he was charged for the entire billing cycle, even though he had only used his telephone for a portion of the month in which he cancelled.  Understandably upset for paying for service he did not want or use, Mr. Godoy contacted Santa Barbara based class action attorneys Foley, Bezek, Behle & Curtis, LLP.   Attorneys at Foley, Bezek, Behle & Curtis, LLP together with the Santa Barbara law firm of Arias Ozzello & Gignac, LLP and the Washington State law firm of Tousley Brain and Stephens, PLLC filed a nationwide class action lawsuit against AT&T the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington (AT&T’s principal place of business) for unfair and deceptive billing practices.

The class action alleged that prior to May of 2003, when a customer of AT&T cancelled wireless service, AT&T’s uniform practice was always to “pro rate” the monthly service charge — charging the customer only for the portion of the billing cycle during which the wireless service actually was used (i.e., through the date of cancellation of service). AT&T, however, saw an opportunity to generate additional revenue from its fleeing customers by implemented a uniform company policy of not pro rating but instead charging its customers for a full billing cycle for the month in which the cancellation took place in direct violation of its existing terms and conditions.  This unfair and deceptive practice was intended to quickly generate income from lost customers in the telecom industry equivalent of saying, “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!”  The class action complaint sought damages for Violation of the Federal Communications Act, Breach of Contract, Unjust Enrichment and Declaratory Relief.   Several months after Mr. Godoy filed his complaint, the firm of Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstien filed a similar complaint and the two actions were consolidated by stipulation.

In the midst of the grueling class action battle with AT&T, Plaintiffs learned of a situation on the east coast that could have potentially wiped-out Mr. Godoy’s entire case.  Unbeknownst to the Plaintiffs, AT&T had recently entered into settlement negotiations with another group of law firms who had filed a similar action in the Superior Court of New Jersey rather than the face the tough prosecution of the action by the Plaintiffs’ team of lawyers.  When Plaintiffs learned of the settlement, which offered just over $2 million in recovery to the class, Plaintiffs were shocked.

Undeterred by the fact that a New Jersey judge had preliminarily approved the settlement, Plaintiffs’ attorneys decided to take the fight to the New Jersey Courts.    Plaintiffs alleged, amongst other things, that the proposed settlement was inadequate and let AT&T off the hook at the consumers’ expense.  Although the New Jersey Judge initially denied Plaintiffs’ motion to intervene into the case, the Plaintiffs’ attorneys ultimately persuaded the Court that the settlement reached in the New Jersey action did not adequately compensate the class.  In a well-reasoned, 11-page decision, the Honorable Judge Bernstein of the Essex County, New Jersey Superior Court concluded that “the settlement was unfair.”  Shortly after the decision, AT&T approached Plaintiffs’ counsel in an attempt to reach a global settlement of both the Washington and New Jersey actions.   In a remarkable turnaround and as a result of the Plaintiffs’ attorneys’ efforts including objecting to the initial settlement and leading the negotiations of the revised settlement, the New Jersey court ultimately approved a revised settlement valued at over $40,000,000 to be distributed to the class of former-AT&T customers

The extreme tenacity of Foley, Bezek, Behle, & Curtis, LLP took what was otherwise a miniscule claim and turned it into a nationwide case that successfully compensated hundreds of thousands of consumers across America and taught AT&T that if they wrong their customers, they will have to pay the price.  This was a true victory for consumers across America.

Merrill Lynch Class Action

Merrill Lynch Class Action Lawsuit Homepage
Class Action Certified in Structured Settlement Case

Santa Barbara, CA – Foley & Bezek, a Southern California law firm with a practice specializing in class actions, confirms that a California State Court has certified a class action in the In Re: Structured Settlement Litigation, Case No. BC249692, in Superior Court of Los Angeles County. Judge Peter Lichtman certified the class on January 29, 2002. Judge Licthman found that the Plaintiffs’ claims against numerous defendants for alleged failure to make timely payments to individuals who settled personal injury cases and agreed to accept periodic payments utilizing “structured settlements,” should proceed as a class action and appointed Foley & Bezek as one of the class counsel.

The Plaintiffs filed suit in January 2001 alleging that they have relied upon the integrity of Treasury Bond Trusts established by IBAR, Merrill Lynch and Merrrill Lynch Settlement Services Inc., under trust agreements with Bank of America and Wells Fargo, to secure over $200 million in outstanding settlement obligations. The complaint further alleges that in November, 2000, the current structured settlement company, SSTAI, defaulted on those payments. The complaint alleges that this default has had an enormous impact on the Plaintiffs, who represent an acutely vulnerable class of persons, many of whom are dependant on these settlement payments for medical care and the daily necessities of life.

In certifying this action as a class action, Judge Licthman defined the class of persons as all persons and entities who are parties to structured settlements with a company variously known as IBAR, Inc., Merrill Lynch IBAR, Inc., Merrill Lynch Settlement Services, Inc., ML Settlement Services, Inc., or Settlement Services Treasury Assignments, Inc., whose structured settlements provided for payments to be paid out of the interest and principal paid on U.S. Treasury bonds held in trust and who have not received payment in full of the amounts due to them under their structured settlements.
Continue reading Merrill Lynch Class Action

Verizon Class Action

logo2004 VERIZON Class Action Lawsuit Homepage

This page was created as a source of information to consumers who are inquiring about a class action lawsuit recently filed against GTE (now known as Verizon). The lawsuit alleges that certain billing practices of GTE constitute unfair or deceptive practices and that there may be a class of consumers who have been affected by these practices. The case focuses on GTE’s long-distance billing procedures. A complete copy of the complaint that was filed in court can be accessed by clicking on the sidebar link entitled “View The Complaint Filed in Court”. The contents of the complaint are only allegations until such time as those allegations are proven in court.

The lawsuit addresses a number of issues. One of those issues regards your selection of a long-distance carrier. The second issue concerns whether GTE has over-billed consumers for phone service charges from long-distance carriers.
Continue reading Verizon Class Action

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against 24 Hour Fitness To Proceed In Arbitration

Santa Barbara, California


A class action lawsuit filed against 24 Hour Fitness by two California law firms, Donahoo & Associates and Foley & Bezek, LLP, is proceeding in arbitration pursuant to a Court Order dated December 17, 2004. To view a copy of the Judge’s Order click this link.

The class action is filed on behalf of current and former 24 Hour Fitness personal trainers, fitness managers, operation managers, sales counselors, assistant general managers and general managers employed throughout the United States . The claim alleges that 24 Hour Fitness violated various sections of the California Labor Code and the Fair Labor Standards Act by improperly calculating wages, including overtime and sales commissions, failing to provide meal and rest periods, requiring work “off-the-clock,” misclassifying managers as exempt from overtime, and issuing improper wage stubs. To view a copy of the Claimants’ Second Amended Statement of Claim click this link.

The crux of the claim stems from allegations that 24 Hour Fitness required employees, as part of their job duties, to undertake numerous tasks “off-the-clock.” These additional tasks resulted in personal trainers working more than 5 consecutive hours without a break and more than 8 hours in a day without properly being compensated for wages and overtime.

The suit also alleges 24 Hour Fitness managers were misclassified as “exempt” employees, and were not paid required overtime. The complaint seek damages for managers who were paid as salaried employees, improperly classified as exempt, and who typically worked in excess of 8 hours per day and 40 days per week. The suit alleges the managers worked more than 50% of their hours performing tasks of “non-exempt” employees.

By pursuing this case as a class action, the claimants seek recovery for all current and former employees who were not properly compensated by 24 Hour Fitness. If you were employed by 24 Hour Fitness as a personal trainer, fitness manager, operations manager, sales counselor, assistant general manager or general manager and would like to speak with someone about this case, please contact:

Richard Donahoo
Donahoo & Associates
505 North Tustin Avenue, Suite 160
Santa Ana , California 92705
(714) 953-1010 (office)

Thomas G. Foley, Jr.
Foley & Bezek, LLP
15 W. Carrillo Street
Santa Barbara , California
(805) 962-4037 (office)

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